A satisfying sequel that balances the monsters of Japanese mythology with the personal demons of a likable protagonist; fans...



From the Momotaro series , Vol. 2

Following Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (2016), Xander Miyamoto’s second quest takes him to the Land of Dreams, where he encounters more creatures from Japanese folklore.

His careless use of his grandmother’s baku charm, which takes away nightmares, renders him powerless and his family and friends dangerously close to lethargic death. With higher stakes than before, this half-Japanese, half-Irish 12-year-old dives deep into his own personal psychology as he battles demonic oni on his quest to find the baku (a dream-stealing anteater) and restore his Momotaro power. In a plot that feels comfortably familiar, Xander is lured by the forces of evil, is offered the power of ruling the galaxy, and is horrified when he sees that the enemy has his own face. But through the kabuki mask of Japanese mythology, these familiar themes take a surprising twist, with appearances by Kintaro, the Golden Boy, Fudo-Myoo, the Angry Lord of Light, and the Princess Kaguya. Xander slowly realizes that true things bring power and assistance: true anger, true fear, and true compassion. He also learns the importance of words from Princess Kaguya. “Words are the sounds of the heart, Xander-san….What you say to others—and yourself—matters a great deal.”

A satisfying sequel that balances the monsters of Japanese mythology with the personal demons of a likable protagonist; fans will be waiting to see what battles he will fight next. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2488-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun


From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 1

It’s been 42 days since the Monster Apocalypse began, and 13-year-old Jack Sullivan, a self-proclaimed “zombie-fighting, monster-slaying tornado of cool” is on a quest to find and rescue his not-so-secret crush, June Del Toro, whether she needs it, wants it, or not.

Jack cobbles together an unlikely but endearing crew, including his scientist best friend, Quint Baker; Dirk Savage, Parker Middle School’s biggest bully; and a pet monster named Rover, to help him save the damsel in distress and complete the “ULTIMATE Feat of Apocalyptic Success.” Middle-grade readers, particularly boys, will find Jack’s pitch-perfect mix of humor, bravado, and self-professed geekiness impossible to resist. His sidekicks are equally entertaining, and it doesn’t hurt that there are also plenty of oozing, drooling, sharp-toothed monsters and zombies and a host of gizmos and gadgets to hook readers and keep them cheering with every turn of the page. Holgate’s illustrations play an integral role in the novel’s success. They not only bring Brallier’s characters to life, but also add depth and detail to the story, making plain just exactly how big Rover is and giving the lie to Jack’s “killer driving.” The marriage of text and illustration serves as a perfect example of what an illustrated novel can and should be.

Classic action-packed, monster-fighting fun (. (Graphic/horror hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01661-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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